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Wilson Gets a New Partner

Pro Bowl safety ready to work with Rhodes, who welcomes fresh start


New Cardinals' safety Kerry Rhodes addresses the media Monday.
Adrian Wilson doesn't know Kerry Rhodes, but he knows of him, and for now, that's good enough.

The Cardinals' Pro Bowl strong safety made sure to text Rhodes – his new free safety – as soon as Rhodes was acquired Saturday in a trade with the Jets. And Wilson has heard enough from coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves to be comfortable in his team's plans, which ended up including Rhodes after Antrel Rolle left as a free agent.

"I'm not a big mouth," Wilson said Monday, after getting in a workout at the Cards' facility. "But I've got Whiz's cell number and I've got Rod's cell number. Both of them know how to text and I've been texting them for the past three days. They know I am watching from afar. They know I want to do whatever it takes to be a three-time NFC West champ.

"I think a lot of people are writing us off by seeing the people walking out the door and not looking at what is actually in-house. We still have a pretty decent team, and we're not going to give up our crown just because these guys left."

That includes Wilson, who will team with Rhodes in a revamped secondary.

"I was glad to hear from (Adrian)," Rhodes said while holding his introductory press conference Monday. "Him and me together, it's going to be a nice little thing."

Wilson said he was impressed with how proactive the team was in getting a quick replacement for Rolle. The trade for Rhodes came less than 24 hours after Rolle signed with the Giants.
Rhodes may have been the perfect replacement. The Cardinals asked about him at the Scouting combine, knowing he would probably be available. He also came into the league under new Cardinals' defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, who was the Jets' defensive coordinator in Rhodes' rookie season of 2005.

There has been a lot of speculation about Rhodes' issues in New York and why he had fallen out of favor. Rhodes insisted the Jets never told him they were unhappy with his commitment given off-field pursuits like acting and modeling, and while he knew the past season was "rocky" with a new coaching staff, he still was shocked when the trade occurred.

"We weren't seeing eye-to-eye as a player and a franchise," Rhodes said. "I have a lot of respect (for the Jets). We just didn't mesh well at the end of that journey."

"It's a chance for me to show everybody what I am about," Rhodes added. "It's a chance to help a team that is ready to win. The other stuff is going to come."

Wilson acknowledged he was "really, really sad" after the events of Friday, no surprise since he not only lost his free safety but also best friend Karlos Dansby. But he insisted he would never worry about what new players might arrive or who he would team with in the secondary.

"I just want to make sure (Rhodes) is comfortable with what we are doing, and that is the most important thing," Wilson said. "I want to make sure he knows I am available for him."

Whisenhunt said he didn't want to compare Rhodes and Rolle, simply reiterating the Cardinals will do what they have always tried to do – tailor the scheme to the strengths of the players available. Rhodes, he said, is versatile enough to play the deep half of the field or blitz, which should give the Cards flexibility.

Whisenhunt, not surprisingly, also stressed the Cardinals have a plan, even after Rolle and Dansby left and Anquan Boldin was traded. The Cards, based on various reports, are expected to host a handful of free agents this week, including offensive linemen Wade Smith and Rex Hadnot, defensive lineman Nick Eason and linebackers Larry Foote and Joey Porter.

"This offseason, this free agency period, it just started this past week," Whisenhunt said. "We have five more months ahead of us before we ever take the field in Flagstaff and there are a lot of things that can happen."

Wilson echoed the sentiment.

"We're going to build around the guys we have here," Wilson said. "We still have a pretty good core."

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